OFF-THE-GRID LIVIN’ PART 5: LANDFILL

Between recycling and refuse I make pilgrimage to the landfill about once every 4-6 weeks. I wait until I have enough to fill the pickup, and since the landfill is between me and everywhere else I need to go, it becomes a part of my getting between here and there.

Like many landfills, this one is tucked up in the hills behind the nearest town, completely invisible from any approach, other than by a handful of small, introverted, invitations posted at the most crucial road crossings. Then there is the tole gate, followed by one or two miles of dirt road, then the landfill. I had mentioned in previous posts my growing senses in awareness and consequence, and this is definitely an area where before moving here, I really had no sense of “landfill”. Now I am a regular. My visits are spaced, so my perception of the the slow build of sediment is marked, like a real-time time-laps.

Driving in, there is hill on my left. It is a natural hill built up and torn down by the millennia. It is a slowly crafted thing. From below, the Pacific and North American tectonic plates are shoving this hill up from the bottom of the sea.  From above wind, water, and plant life are shaping and smoothing it into organic ridged forms like the shoulders of some giant.  Or rather I should say “used to” and “was” instead of “is” and “are”. Because now it is being shaped by new forces. Each visit I observe new, deep, cat claw trenches wearing away its sides at a rate previously incomprehensible to the forces of earth, water, and trees.

On my right, is a new hill. At its lower levels the untrained eye would find it indistinguishable from it’s older sisters. Here its greatest distinguishing marks are a tell tale geometry in form, that and the root-works of steel pipes which burrow into it’s base. Up it’s side, an a inexorable line of caterpillars and trucks. The former carrying terra from the body of the giantess on left. The latter porting the detritus from the human community just to the west.

My trek takes me to the top of this new hill.  What what trash that is visible sits at the top, but what is visible is a paltry volume. At best only a half-day’s contribution, probably the equivalent of 5-8 truckloads at most. Usually less. On the far side of the pile a couple of yellow machines work nervously to tuck the new deliveries out of site.

I am directed to park, I open the car door. The substance of this hill is then fully betrayed by the scattered chunks which refused to go down quietly and submit to the embarrassed repressive labors of the tractors: A chunk of tire here, the tip of a diaper there. Scraps of adds ground in with clay.

I step out of the car. My boot hits the ground. Then I really know what I am standing on. The earth below is softer than it should be, it is a softness that runs profoundly. It is not like the loamy earth of the garden where one can feel stone and clay below the epidermis of fallow soil with every footfall and shovel thrust.

I can feel it through my soles: it is a young hill grown up too fast. A hill without bones.